Abuse tears families apart in new campaign

May 01, 2008  |  Kristin Laird  |  Comments

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Canadian Women’s Foundation is striving to end violence against women with its “Shelter from the Storm” campaign.

This is the organization’s first national advertising effort and the first work from Publicis since picking up the account late last year.

Sarah Ruddle, marketing and communications manager for the Canadian Women’s Foundation, said the campaign aims to reach people in an emotional way without taking the “heavy-handed” approach used by some charities.

“[Publicis] came up with something that’s subtle but also communicates exactly what the issue is,” she said.

The 30-second PSA features a family torn apart. The husband sits on one side of the couch, while a mother sits with her son and baby at the other end. The man clears his throat and the mother puts a protective arm around her son. A dotted line extends down the screen separating the man from his family. It ends with the tag line “No one should have to live with abuse. Help her out.” The spot directs people to the website, ShelterFromTheStorm.ca, where visitors can make a donation.

“When you look at the ad…you don’t know if there’s physical abuse going on, you don’t know if there’s emotional abuse going on, but there is a tension in that room that’s palpable,” said Ruddle.

Billboards, subway ads, banner ads, full-page magazine ads and elevator ads extend the theme of the TV spot. For example, on donation cards contributors can rip the wife away from her husband and place her in an envelope that resembles a women’s shelter. And when elevator doors open, a man and wife are separated.

Duncan Bruce, senior vice-president, executive creative director of Publicis, said he wanted to stay away from the drama of “a man screaming, women with black eyes and children cowering” to speak to the audience in a more meaningful way.

On May 8 Rogers-owned radio stations across Canada will host “radio-thons,” broadcasting survivors’ stories, raising awareness and encouraging donations. Winners and HomeSense will also hold a “Shop ’til it Stops” sales event. A percentage of sales will go to Shelter from the Storm. When shoppers use their BMO Mosaik or MasterCard, an additional percentage will go to the campaign.

Also, Winners and HomeSense stores across the country will sell Shelter from the Storm T-shirts and teddy bears. Net proceeds will support the shelter.

The national public foundation hopes to raise $1.5 million this year, $500,000 more than last year’s fundraising effort. Half of the money raised will support more than 450 shelters for abused women and their children. The remaining funds will support community violence prevention programs. The campaign launched last week and runs until May 11.

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